White Smoke

I have a 97 cavalier. Today, after running rather normally, it began blowing white smoke out of the tailpipe. There seems to be a sluggishness in the sound of the engine. It doesn’t want to get up past about 30 mph as well.

A few people have told me this could be the head gasket, and so burning oil and coolant. However I don’t see evidence of mixing of the 2 substances.

Another possibility is that the vacuum modulator may have a hole in the diaphragm, which is sucking transmission fluid into the engine and burning it. I haven’t checked the transmission fluid level, mostly because I wouldn’t know what to look for if this were the case.

I would prefer the latter possibility, since it looks to be a far cheaper repair. I’m not sure how to tell though.

There isn’t a vacuum modulator on the transmission that can leak transmission fluid into the engine. The transmission is electronically controlled.

From your description it sounds like a failed head gasket. A cylinder leak-down test will confirm that.


Well, we did recently elect a new pope…

Seriously though, it’s probably a head gasket. Especially if you notice a sweet smell near the exhaust.

got the car fixed for about $40’s. the issues was that I put too much oil in the engine and some of the oil got into the pcv valve and the air intake hoses. so we cleaned that up and the car runs well for its age.